Tourism in Switzerland

Known for its scenic alpine vistas and natural beauty, Switzerland's strongest tourism draws are outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. The country has recognized and encouraged this trend by building a strong transportation infrastructure to take travellers easily to the small cities, towns and resorts that depend on the tourism industry. Most of the country is served by railway networks with trains departing frequently from the major cities of Zurich, Geneva and Basel.

Despite being a small land locked country without any ocean beach resorts, Switzerland has a strong and very competitive tourism industry. Almost five percent of the work force is employed in the tourism sector, providing services to over eight million international tourists annually. Tourists add 15.6 billion francs to the Swiss economy, totalling three percent of the Swiss gross domestic product. In 2007, Switzerland was recognized by the World Economic Forum as the most competitive travel and tourism sector in the world.

Visitors to the country tend to either travel directly to alpine resorts or use the railway system to visit multiple locations throughout the country and maximise their experiences with the natural environment and historical architecture.

Castles in Bellinzona

A World Heritage Site for its medieval castles, the most renowned of which is Montebello Castle. The thirteenth century castle was restored in the 1970s and is a prime example of an alpine medieval castle. The castle is also home to a museum of archaeological artefacts.

Trekking in Chur

Having been inhabited since prehistoric times, Chur is one of Europe's oldest communities. The town is filled with beautiful parks that are home to alpine flowers during the spring and summer. Hiking and skiing trails surround the town and many tourists take the three day hike to Tamins during the summer. Huts for food and sleep are available along the route and a bus is available for the return trip to Chur.

Monuments and Architecture in Geneva

The spectacular Jet d'Eau Fountain sprays water over half a kilometer, creating an elegant reflective light show at night.

Geneva's Cathedral St-Pierre is a massive cathedral, representing the Reformed Christian tradition and connected by underground passage to the International Museum of the Reformation. From the towers of the cathedral, visitors can look out over the beautiful Lake Geneva. Archaeological tours operate under the Cathedral, where tour guides explain the city's pre-roman origins.

A walking tour of Old Town, Geneva yields cathedrals, antique shops, cannons and the birthplace of Rousseau. The Palais of Nations, originally built for the League of Nations, has an art gallery and an impressive assembly hall flanked with the flags of all nations.

Geneva is also home to several major museums, including the Red Cross Museum, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and a Natural History Museum.

Entertainment in Zurich

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and is a major cultural centre for the region. There are more than one hundred fifty museums and art galleries in the city. Nightlife includes visits to world class restaurants, theatre and opera. During August the city hosts Street Parade, Europe's largest party rave.

Scenery in Schaffhausen

A scenic city on the banks of the Rhine, visitors enjoy viewing the renaissance buildings in the oldest part of Schaffhausen. The Munot fortress presents a peaceful view over the city and the surrounding valley. Rheinfall, Europe's largest waterfall, is near the city and can be viewed from scenic lookouts around the falls, and by a boat that travels up the river to the centre of the falls.

Mountain Ski Resorts

As an alpine country, Switzerland is a destination for world class skiing and winter sports. The most famous of the Swiss ski resorts is St. Moritz, located in the Engadine valley and near the highest mountain peak in the eastern Alps. With over three hundred days of sunshine every year, St. Moritz is particularly popular among Europe's upper classes and is a frequent destination for royal holidays.

The Matterhorn is Switzerland's most recognizable landscape features. The ski resort of Zermatt lies at the base of the Matterhorn and from there visitors embark on skiing, snowboarding and sled trips in winter. Hiking and mountain biking are popular in the summer.